African swine fever (ASF) is creating major changes in global livestock feed ingredient and food trade. US pork producers feed imported swine feed ingredients, including vitamins and soybean products, from China where the ASF pandemic continues to grow. Responding to the potential threat posed to US swine herd health by these imported ingredients, which may be vectors for ASF transmission, the Swine Health Information Center (SHIC) brought vitamin manufacturers and the soybean industry together for workshops in April and July. At each event, the purpose was to discuss and better understand how imported vitamin and soybean products relate to disease transmission. By conducting these events at the University of Minnesota, SHIC is facilitating engagement intended to prevent ASF introduction into the US via imported feed ingredients.
All documents from the workshops can be found on the SHIC website. Facilitating collaboration through organizing these workshops reflects SHIC’s mission to monitor and be prepared for emerging diseases, protecting US swine herd health, and producers’ livelihoods.
Participants at both workshops talked about ASF mitigation strengths and weaknesses in manufacturing as well as transportation of these feed ingredients. Representatives from the vitamin supply chain pointed out there is little risk from reputable companies able to discuss and answer the Questions to Ask Your Feed Supplier posted on the SHIC website. The vitamin supply chain report includes a detailed listing of vitamin manufacturers in China and their web sites as well details on biosecurity procedures and third-party audits of many of these facilities. Stakeholders were very interested in soybean meal mitigation processes (both extracting and expelling) to inactivate the virus, with evaluation of efficacy of all mitigants and related processes required.
Workshop attendees are concerned about the high consequences of ASF or other FADs being discovered in the US, though both groups agreed the risk for ASF infection cannot yet be quantified. Participants in the workshops encourage the development of diagnostic testing capability for feed and feed ingredients as well as a response plan to support monitoring of these products. Should ASF or another foreign animal disease (FAD) be diagnosed in the US, a plan to assess and mitigate contamination within the feed supply chain is essential. Attendees also know more information is needed on the amount of feed ingredients being imported from each country as well as their FAD status. The logistics of soy imports and exports need scrutiny as well, with contamination during transportation being a consideration.
A review of Canada’s approach to ASF control in the feed ingredient supply chain was presented during the soybean workshop. The Canadian government has developed and implemented a program with importation requirements as a result of their assessment of the risk of ASF virus transmission in grains, oil seeds, and associated meals.
The soybean group discussed the potential risk factors in the US soy supply chain being soybean hulls and transportation cross-contamination So, for soy products, a better understanding of logistics is needed. Importers of specialty soy products like organic soybean meal also need to be better informed about ASF risk and appropriate actions to prevent disease transmission. This includes biosecurity and pre-screening protocols for importers.
The Swine Health Information Center (SHIC) initiated a veterinary diagnostic lab (VDL) data standardization project in 2017 and from there a regular Domestic Swine Disease Monitoring Report was developed, published monthly beginning in March 2018. The program’s principal investigator, Dr. Daniel Linhares, and project coordinator, Dr. Giovani Trevisan, both from Iowa State University, continually seek input from stakeholders to improve both process and deliverables. This October, Dr. Trevisan will give an oral presentation on the Domestic Swine Disease Monitoring Report during the American Association of Veterinary Laboratory Diagnosticians (AAVLD) Annual Meeting in Providence, Rhode Island, with this as the goal. His presentation, and resulting feedback, will help make the SHIC-funded program stronger and more useful to producers, enhancing the on-going investment by SHIC as well as equipping the swine industry with important disease monitoring information. By instigating this porcine-focused project, SHIC is also providing an example of progressive programming for other commodities to consider.
The title of Dr. Trevisan’s accepted abstract is, “Aggregating results and summarizing findings from multiple veterinary diagnostic laboratories in the US on a near real-time basis.” Cooperation between VDLs has been extraordinary and earns great praise from Drs. Trevisan and Linhares. Their priority is to maximize porcine-related data and practices to improve the dashboard, including using input generated by the presentation at the AAVLD annual meeting. “I think the big value to the swine industry has been, for the very first time, the ability to understand disease detection over time, geography, age, and specific stage in the porcine life cycle,” remarked Dr. Linhares. “As a whole, it allows the industry to have a good understanding of swine health information across variables.”
SHIC’s Domestic Swine Disease Monitoring Report includes aggregated information from the Iowa State University VDL, South Dakota State University ADRDL, University of Minnesota VDL, and Kansas State University VDL on five pathogens, having grown from two VDLs and one disease when the program was launched. Shared via reports and online dashboard which is consistently updated for ease of use, the model describes dynamics of disease detection by pathogen over time, specimen, age group, and geographical space. Unique to this program is the aggregation of disease data in a format completely protecting the confidentiality of producers’ identities.
An advisory group has been formed to help give context to the aggregated data and interpret it. The report uses data from VDL cases with molecular tests (PCR-based assays and virus genotyping) for porcine reproductive and respiratory syndrome virus (PRRSV), enteric coronaviruses including porcine epidemic diarrhea virus (PEDV), Mycoplasma hyopneumoniae (MHP). The report also includes information on disease detection by syndrome, including enteric, respiratory, and central nervous system (CNS).
By funding this project, SHIC leads the industry toward better swine health information to positively impact the long-term sustainability of pork production. The near real-time information on swine disease made available by this system enables better, faster, and more effective response to endemic or foreign infectious diseases. The result is a stronger, more vibrant US pork industry.
Jeremy Pittman, DVM, has joined the Swine Health Information Center (SHIC) Board of Directors. Dr. Pittman is a staff veterinarian for Smithfield Hog Production – North Region. His responsibilities include oversight on 133,000 sows farrow-to-finish in North Carolina and Virginia. He also serves on the Smithfield Science and Technology Committee. Dr. Pittman assumes the seat previously held by Dr. Mike Terrill, CEO of Topigs Norsvin Americas, who resigned after four years of service on the SHIC Board of Directors. In accepting the SHIC Board seat, Dr. Pittman observed, “SHIC continues to emphasize and support communication, knowledge, and development in areas that affect the entire swine industry that may otherwise not be highlighted through normal channels.”
Joining the SHIC Board of Directors gives Dr. Pittman the opportunity to put his experience, training, and interests to further use for the benefit of the swine industry. “I am always looking for ways to contribute to the greater swine industry and allow my expertise to influence more people and pigs than I am directly responsible for now,” he remarked. “With 15 years of veterinary and management experience in a large, integrated swine company, I will be able to share the current and historical perspectives of that niche of the industry. In addition, I represent a part of the industry located on the East Coast, an adjacent but important node of the industry’s connectedness.”
Dr. Pittman is a 2004 graduate of the North Carolina State University College of Veterinary Medicine. He is Board Certified in Swine Medicine, earned a master’s degree in Veterinary Preventative Medicine from Iowa State University, and completed the Executive Veterinary Program at the University of Illinois. He received the Allen D. Leman Science in Practice Award in 2015 and the Iowa State University Science with Practice Award in 2016.
Other members of the SHIC Board of Directors are Daryl Olsen, DVM, president, Howard Hill, DVM, vice president, Mark Greenwood, treasurer, Matt Anderson, DVM, Bill Luckey, Mark Schwartz, Gene Noem, and Matthew Turner, DVM.
During July, porcine reproductive and respiratory syndrome virus (PRRSv) activity was at the lower boundaries of the predicted value for 2019. Positive cases from the wean-to-market age group were at 28.75%, the lowest since July 2015. The percentage of positive cases coming from the adult/sow category was at the lowest level of detection for the year of 2019 at 17.68%. The level of detection of porcine epidemic diarrhea virus (PEDV) RNA, and of porcine deltacorona virus (PDCoV) RNA were both within the expected values for July, with decreased detection for all age categories. Even though the number of cases tested and the level of detection of Mycoplasma hyopneumoniae (MHP) DNA was within the expected value for July, there was an increased detection observed in the last four weeks from all age categories, as expected based on historical data for this time of the year. Additionally, the July report contains information on redesigned dashboards for the Domestic Swine Disease Monitoring Report.
Bulgaria has declared an African swine fever (ASF) state of emergency saying 130,000 pigs were culled in two weeks due to detection of the disease on six industrial farms in the country. The first two ASF outbreaks were reported in Slovakia. On July 25, Slovakian authorities reported the first case of ASF in the village of Strážne, Trebišov district. A week later, a second case was confirmed in the village of Veľký Kamenec. And ASF was detected in northern Ireland where 300 kg of illegally imported meat was seized by port authorities after testing positive for ASF DNA fragments.